tv American Politics CSPAN July 4, 2010 6:30pm-8:00pm EDT
-- a very hard lift. >> can you explain to viewers how utility only cap and trade system would work? >> the government would put a cap on the amount of emissions electric companies could emit and require utilities to hold permits to limit greenhouse gases. >> what are we talking about your quest for >> the companies that would be most affected are coal companies, mining companies, nuclear companies would benefit from this because suddenly they would have an advantage. they would be a low carbon source. wind and carbon sources that provide companies with power. the companies that would be heard would be those that are most reliant on coal. over time, the government would reduce the amount of permits that companies have and take away, sort of like musical chairs. so, over time, you have to reduce the amount of emissions you a minute or pay someone else
to reduce the emissions for you. you are still achieving the same environmental goal, which is lower emissions, but you are letting the market how to best decide how to achieve the goal. previous goals that have been considered, including the one passed by house, would have done this across multiple industries and allow trading by wall street firms. the one the democrats are considering will be very narrow and it's not even clear if it will pass. >> u.s. timid point out many industries and economies want an economy-wide cap and trade system so they know there are certainties about the system. does that mean that under current law that the epa could step in and say we're going to regulate transportation? >> that is exactly what is happening already. the epa is moving to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. they just announced and finalize regulations covering greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles.
they have announced plans to go forward with regulations that would cover power plants. other industries. they're moving that direction. those regulations are likely to be more costly because the epa is not the expert on which technology is the best, they're just going to say you have to meet this emissions reduction and it will be much more expensive. >> could you want our viewers through what an energy-only bill looks like if they can't even do -- which it sells like it will be able to do -- cap and trade on utilities, if they can't do that, what does an energy-only bill look like? >> senator bingaman's bill has moved to the energy committee and has a real bull electricity standard. it mandates that 14% of the nation's electricity be generated by renewable, clean sources like wind and solar.
that is really significant energy policy. today, less than 5% of our electricity is generated from those sources. that is a really big scale up. it includes provisions to overhaul the national grid and put in place new transmission systems that are better suited for moving this renewable electricity. it would put power lines in place from where wind and solar are generated. it is a significant step forward in energy policy. creates a new agency that would give federal incentives for the development of advanced, new, clean energy technology. one of the contentious pieces of that bill is that when it was passed one year ago, it did include new offshore drilling in the gulf of mexico. that brought in republicans and that will have to go. >> it sounds like people who are
interested in this should be watching and reading senator bingaman's bill and not focused so much of the bill put out by senator kerry and senator lieberman. >> it is almost certain that what comes to the floor in the next few weeks of the can get something through will be written by senator bingaman, whether it is the energy-only or utility only for a bill that would overhaul offshore drilling reform. that's the one that is most popular. >> thank you for being with us. >> one of the best things i have heard about money and politics is like water that finds a hole. >> he writes about political action committees and their influence on, -- and congress and won a pulitzer prize on his reporting on tom delay and jack abrams off. -- jack abramoff.
>> now, the head of the national counter-terrorism center in washington -- the will discuss the current strength of al qaeda and pakistan and the intelligence of the whereabouts of osama bin laden and policy decisions for targeting individual terrorists. he was -- this was a recent conference on homeland security. >> for those of you who joined us just today, i want to introduce myself -- and the director of the home and security program and the organizer of the first annual security forum. the proceedings today are being covered by c-span for later broadcast and i want to welcome the just our c-span viewers but the listeners from aspen public radio. before we get started with today's session, just a few housekeeping matters. i mentioned there is a survey on the tables.
we are hard at work planning next summer's second aspin security form. please complete those forms so embittered compete for that. i want to mention that a number of people were featured throughout the forum are authors and books related to comment security and counter-terrorism. those books are available thanks to the generosity of explorer bookstore right outside in the lounge. please avail yourself of that opportunity to read and learn more about the various opportunities we are discussing. there will be a number of schedule changes of the course of the day. our featured luncheon speaker will be the ambassador of pakistan to the united states, ambassador husain haqqani. thes get started with morning session -- the terror threat picture in counterterrorism strategy. there are lots of vulnerability is in this country and lots of threats against this country. the key to protecting the
nation, needless to say, is intelligence. to talk about that issue today, i can think of no one better than our featured speaker. to be in conversation with their speaker, we are lucky to have mike is a cough, the national investigative correspondent -- mike isikoff, and he will soon take a very same position for nbc news. he has written extensively on the war on terrorism, the conflicts in iraq and afghanistan, and other national issues in potential politics. his book was an instant "new york times" best seller was published in the timber 2006. since january, he has been a regular msn b.c. contributor, making regular appearances and
is the co-author of the blog, declassified reporting in real time. >> thank you. [applause] we are privileged to have one of the key figures in formulating u.s. government policy and implementing u.s. government policy and the very issues that are the subject of this forum, mike leiter, the director of the national counter-terrorism center that conducts strategic operational planning for terrorism activities -- counter- terrorism activities. they looked into the errors in intelligence in the run-up to the iraq war and a former federal prosecutor. i do notice in the brief biography that they gave me that left out to interesting things -- like is -- he has a rare distinction. he's one of only two people in the u.s. government elite national security side who had the same job in the obama
administration that he had in the bush had been a station. robert gates is the other. i also notice that they left off your academic background which may or may not explain that. he is -- he attended columbia university, harvard law school, and was president of the harvard law review. apparently somebody at the white house that those were pretty impressive academic credentials. before columbia, he did not spend any time at occidental, did you? [laughter] just to start out, given that rare distinction, how is the u.s. counter-terrorism policy different under president obama that was under president bush? >> first, let me thank the aspen forum for holding this. it is a pleasure to be here. i think it does not an accident that i was asked to stay on by
president obama. i will add a third name -- stuart levy, the undersecretary for terror finance. i do not think it's an accident that the two of us and secretary gates were brought on because frankly, although i think counter-terrorism was given a very political made during the bush administration, i like to say that 95% of what i do on counter-terrorism is utterly apolitical. the problem is the 5% of people talk about takes up 95% of the air time. but the vast majority of what we do in the counter-terrorism community on a daily basis on the intelligence side, it is utterly noncontroversial. i think americans should take some comfort in the fact that even though we had a change of administrations, i the change in many policies, the
counterterrorism policies, some of which certainly changed -- president obama made a powerful statement in the early days of closing guantanamo bay and other practices. i hope people are not disappointed. i guess it depends on what part of the political spectrum you are a lot. most of my work has not changed that much. fundamentally, we are still trying to find people who are trying to hurt americans, stop them from using a variety of means ranging from the department of defense overseas and the cia to the fbi here, to the department of homeland security. the nuts and bolts of that work has not changed significantly. the one area we have tried to change particularly is some of the messaging and counter- radicalization programs. president obama came in early on wanting to push that piece of the counterterrorism puzzle and we have had some success doing
that. >> the organizational chart is interesting -- even though you are under the director of national intelligence, you report directly to president obama. give us a little sense of what that is like when you report to him about the state of the terrorist threat. how engaged is he? what things interest him that you brief him on? >> i have two bosses. the only thing better than having one boss is to bosses. my boss remains the director of national intelligence. my policy role is to the president. i first briefed president obama when he was senator obama and then as president-elect. although he was not thoroughly familiar with the inner workings of the counter-terrorism community from his previous
roles, he has been acutelyy interested and involved from day one, even as a senator on threats to the homeland. he is incredibly focused on that. it has been expanded since the bush administration -- every tuesday, we meet with the president. he calls in his entire counter- terrorism team. that is john brennan, secretary gates, secretary clinton, leon panetta and me -- we lead all of this off with the threats that we see with a particular focus on the homeland. from the first moments, the folks on the homeland and the rest of the team, they are quite intent. they are about hour-long session that began with the intelligence briefing and going to broader policy issues. he pushes us quite hard and has
only pushed as harder since 12/25 for obvious reasons. >> president obama -- president bush used to keep a list of al qaeda leaders on his desk and would check them off as you bailed one and focused on the ones we hadn't. does president obama have the same sort of intense interest in the individuals we are going after with al qaeda and the terrorism world? >> you will not be surprised -- and has added to get too deep into exactly what each of the president's think. i'm hoping to still at a job when i returned to washington. [laughter] everyone focuses on their job differently. some are more on detail, so are a broader policy. i don't the get matters all that much from my perspective. our team's job in working with
the fbi and cia is to focus on the details. that is what we have to be there for. in different cases, president bush, president obama are interested in a different level of detail. my job is to tell them what detailed matters to him and not force him to get to figure out when a detailed matters and what it does not. >> let's get a sense of what the overall threat picture looks like right now. ambassador holbrooke said the other day that al qaeda has been severely degraded. rahm emmanuel said about half of al qaeda has been eliminated in the last 18 months. yet, in that same time, we have seen a rash of -- a rather dramatic increase in attacks on the homeland, including a number of individuals who have been
abroad and received training or encouragement. are we better off, safer, more secure that half of al qaeda has been eliminated, if that is indeed true, or is the terrorism threat picture more perilous today that was before? >> i'm not saying this because i am a lawyer, but it depends. it is not simple. simply saying we have killed a certain number, that's an important piece of the story. with respect to traditional al qaeda senior leadership in pakistan, we have had some incredible success over the past 18 months. it is our assessment that al qaeda senior leadership in pakistan is weaker today that has been since 2001. weaker does not mean harmless. although they might not be as able to formulate extremely
sophisticated big plots, they clearly are, as illustrated by one of your examples, the individual driving from denver to new york to work with others and assessed to useied's on the the new york city subway system, it is a dangerous force. what we have seen that is most problematic to me and difficult for the counter-terrorism community is a diversification of that threat. we not only face al qaeda senior leadership, but we face a troubling dilemma of al qaeda, some traditional pakistan the -- pakistani militant groups. the threat that has highlighted what we see from the bed and al qaeda elements in east africa, some of the most formal, organized threats have been
diminished quite successfully. there has been a diversification of the threat and a move toward simpler, smaller efforts to attack the united states which do not have quite the same level of threat in terms of the damage might cause, but in a multiplicity of the threats, i think it is more challenging today. i have to add one more thing -- we cannot forget forehead, which represents another ankle. that is a home grown -- we cannot forget fort hood. it represents another angle. it is home grown and eight other difficult element. -- another difficult element. >> i want to get back to that statement about half of al qaeda being eliminated. how many people is that at how many are left in the other half? [laughter] >> how many halfs do we have?
>> two. [laughter] >> even certain relatively small number of al qaeda -- in pakistan, a larger number. more than 300, i would say. the key is not going after every foot soldier, but that can be a important as al qaeda and other groups attack u.s. troops in afghanistan, going after those the soldiers can be born. but from a defending the whole land perspective, it is trying to decimate the leadership ranks. we have had a lot of success there. is death of al qaeda's #3 meaningful, but this is not going to be a war when the body count. body count and taking out
leadership are a part of it, but there are many, many other elements ranging from effective aviation screening to equally if not more importantly, trying to counter the ideologies that are spawning bass. >> the questions that i'm discussing in this context are not new. secretary rumsfeld wrote a very famous memo in 2003 about the global war on terrorism and posing the question whether we are winning or losing. i pulled out the other day for the purpose of this -- when asked about a couple of points he made. today, we're having mixed results with al qaeda but we have put considerable pressure on them nonetheless. today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror. are we capturing, killing, or deterring enough terrorists every day than the radical
clerics are recruiting, training and deploy against us? what is the answer to that question seven years later? >> i think on some fronts, we are actually doing better, certainly better than we were in 2003. in 2003, we saw some really worrying signs about the receptivity in many majority muslim nations to al qaeda's ideology measured in part by the attraction of osama bin laden as an individual and the tactics being used. we let the public polling and other polling that we have over the past several years, receptivity to those messages has been declining. to some extent, globally, al qaeda's ideology is becoming less attractive. that being said, i think ford could illustrates and in the case of the times square bomber, the ideology clearly has not been defeated.
it has made movements and to other areas that we did not see in 2003. although the violent ideology is still not attractive to the vast, vast majority of muslims worldwide and certainly not the vast majority of muslims in the united states, it is attractive to a very small percentage. that very, very small percentage can have enormous repercussions if they choose to actually pursue violent means. >> isn't it ttue that in almost every one of the big cases where there have been attempted attacks on the west, the individuals involved have said they were motivated to go abroad and learn how to attack the united states by the actions we're taking now in afghanistan and pakistan to try to defeat al qaeda there? >> i certainly will not try to
argue that some of our actions have not led to some people being radicalized. i think that's a given and said the we have to keep in mind to try to mitigate the need -- to mitigate the negative effects. but that said, at least from my perspective, it was a given that post 9/11, it was imperative for the united states to invade afghanistan and readout al qaeda. we have to recognize those sorts of actions that have negative effects globally and here within the united states in terms of globalization. that doesn't mean you don't do it. it means you have a fuller strategy to explain why you were doing it and explain the likelihood that individuals are going to be radicalized. >> if the average american who does not live in this world were here today -- like >> i wish i was them. >> their first question would be about the guy you mentioned before us some of the blood.
leon panetta said earlier this -- before osama bin laden. leon panetta said we have not had any information of osama bin laden since he fled tora bora in late 2001. he said all i can tell you is he is in the tribal areas. that is all we know. he is located in that vicinity. if we had bought at any good intelligence in seven years, how do we know he is in the tribal areas of pakistan? >> there is in intelligence, if he does something for sure, it's not meaningful intelligence because everybody does it. you try to piece together bits of information to answer hard problems that are mysteries at the knowns. it decays of osama bin laden, i would defer to leon and his assessment and description add say you could have the
indicators of where some of this without knowing exactly where he is. i think that is perfectly consistent. >> is it possible he is someplace else? >> it is possible he is somewhere else. i did all the indicators are he is in the tribal regions. >> not in a city in pakistan? or outside of pakistan in yemen? >> our assessment is he is most likely in the tribal areas of pakistan. >> given all the resources the u.s. government has at its command and all the years you and others have spent trying to find them, we essentially have no clue where he is? >> see he is in the tribal areas suggests we do have some clue. [laughter] >> right, but nice try. >> it sounds really silly. i don't mean to make light of this. finding him i think is a
national security imperative. but he is hiding. he is hiding in an area of the world that is unbelievably difficult for the u.s. and the government of pakistan to operate. if you look at the olympic park, it in the mountains of appalachia for many years, it took him -- to belong time to find him as well. the world is an awfully big place. thanks to many movies like " enemy of the state" americans a imagine we have far greater capabilities to zoom in on any geographical or nets in the world and find the individual. if it were, my job would be a lot easier. >> let me switch gears. afghanistan -- president bush used to say that iraq is the central front in the war of terror. is afghanistan the central front in the war on terror? >> i think against al qaeda
leadership, afghanistan, and pakistan -- i'm not going to use them interchangeably, but there is such a connected fraud that is the central front against al qaeda senior leadership. other friends are very important as well. >> even though there are less than 50 al qaeda operatives perhaps in afghanistan -- >> i include afghanistan and pakistan in the same breath. if you look that region, the boundary between afghanistan and pakistan, the boundary is not particularly meaningful. >> what are the operational ties between the taliban we are fighting in afghanistan and al qaeda leadership in pakistan? >> that is a very fair question. the thais are fluid and changing. as a general manner, general
matter, they did provide comfort and support pre-9/11. as the al qaeda senior leadership moved to pakistan, the nature of those relationships may have changed to some extent. we still see al qaeda as being deeply entwined with the number of groups to include the afghan taliban, the pakistani taliban and others in those three -- in that region. >> there is a great deal of debate about u.s. government policy in afghanistan right now. a lot of uncertainty about where things are going to be in july when the president said we will begin to withdraw troops. admiral mullen the other night said how many and where will depend entirely on commission on the ground and made clear this
is a policy that will be reassessed continually. if the reassessment determines that we are not making progress in defeating the taliban and the strategy is just not working, how big a setback would be for your efforts against al qaeda and terrorism and its associates if the united states began a substantial withdrawal from afghanistan? >> i can only answer part of that question. i know that you tried to phrase it focusing on the counter- terrorism mission. i want to start with afghan policy. you had the right person up here a couple of days ago with chairman mullen speaking to that. i want to be very careful because i do not have a full window because it is not part of my mission as far as the
discussion with respect to troupe and the overall war effort in afghanistan. from a counter-terrorism perspective, it is clear that al qaeda senior leadership once a safe haven and needs a safe haven and needed to recruit individuals and needed to train them and organize and deploy them. that is what they did -- he went to pakistan, he deployed, he tried to attack the united states. were afghanistan to allow whenever the government was in afghanistan, where the government to allow -- even if they didn't allow, have no ability to control the region, that gives al qaeda a freedom of movement that would be extremely problematic from a counter- terror some perspective. .
>> with all of the drone technology and surveillance technology that we have been using to make pinpointed strikes against them in pakistan, would we not be able to catch them as they began to return to afghanistan and pick them off as we do, or a least prevent them from creating or having the same sort of safe haven that they did before? >> it is fair to argue that, for them to recreate the safe haven they had before 9/11, that would be difficult. the question is whether or not it would be able to recreate some sort of meaningful safe haven for their operations. i think what admiral mullen would say, having boots on the ground vastly, vastly advances your ability to disrupt terrorist networks. having boots on the ground in
afghanistan today makes afghanistan of far less attractive safe haven than are the tribal areas of pakistan. >> christmas day. obviously, you were in the middle of a great deal of political debate about the failures of intelligence not allowed abdulmutallab to almost that of that bomb on the airplane. there was a completed report about what happened. they found there were systemic failures across the intelligence community, which contributed to the failure to identify the threat, specifically the nctc was not organized adequately to fulfill its mission today point out that your organization was set up as the primary -- to fill its mission.
they pull out their organization was set up as the primary organization. they failed to connect the reporting on abdulmutallab. >> we did not work the way we wanted to. there has been an incredible amount of soul-searching and effort to change the things that went wrong. that is a bit of bureaucratic self protection. the senate committee found 14 mistakes that occurred. two of those were nctc. there were 12 others. my interpretation of systemic -- there are two ways of looking at systemic. everything is broken. pieces across the system are broken, which meant the system did not work. that was the latter. there were a series of errors that made it less likely -- we did not stop him from getting on
that plane. it is not just an intelligence challenge, as i think the forum talked about yesterday. intelligence can do so much. we also have real shortcomings and areas that we have to improve on. the bottom line was, although we had identified him as a known or suspected terrorist, we did not connect all of the information about him to get him to a level where he would not be allowed to board an airplane. that is in part an intelligence failure, and in part driven by the policy decisions about how we should or should not affect people's civil liberties based on how much intelligence we have or do not have. >> explain that. what decisions are you referring to? >> the policy decisions -- this is not meant to bash either
administration. it involved both president obama and president bush's administrations. we knew before 12/25 that he was a known or suspected terrorist. his name was in a data base that we have called the terrorist -- database that we have about terrorists. not all of the information was connected. he was not placed on the no-fly list. he checked in. the airline person said, you cannot get on the plane. the policy decision underlying that was the degree of intelligence required to put someone on the no-fly list. the standards the we had said the previous two 12/25 were such that more intelligence was o 12/25d -- previous tw were such that more intelligence was required and was -- than was
able to keep the american people safe. >> what is the threshold now for getting on the no-fly list? >> the threshold is not an entirely public one. i cannot discuss it. i will say that it is a lower threshold with fewer requirements to keep someone or get someone on to the no-fly list today. >> there has been a lot of discussion about this for about information sharing. the homeland security adviser under president bush said it was almost -- it was pretty shocking to discover that the same sort of mistakes and lack of information-sharing that everybody focused on after 9/11 were still occurring in the run- up to christmas day. agencies were still reluctant to
share information. they're worse -- the they were still holding back -- they were still holding back. how is that possible? is it still continuing? >> i am sorry she said that. i think she is wrong. i have the utmost respect for her. if she is out there, we can talk about it later. the fact is the information- sharing challenges we saw in 9/11 are not the same that we had with 12/25. previous 2 9/11, we had a set of rules which prohibited certain sharing between the fbi and the cia. there was reluctance to share with fbi and cia and vice versa. there was a series of databases which are not interconnected. the cia operative information did not get to the state department and the fbi. if you go back to whenthe 9/11
commission report, those were the feelings we saw. those were not the feelings we saw on 1212 -- on 12/25. the fact that he was a known or suspected terrorist was available on a database crapo/911 -- post 9/11 that was available to more than 10,000 people in the u.s. government -- the state department, the fbi, the cia, the nsa, all across the u.s. government. they knew that he was a known or suspected terrorist. it was in the database created to solve some of the 9/11 problems. although there were some failings in individual agencies providing bits of data to other agencies, first of all, there are mixed material values. those mistakes were very different from 9/11. they were not policy choices. they were silly, technical glitches. that is very different.
that is a failure of omission vs commission. you can have the same tragic consequences, but you have to understand the difference because the demand different responses after the fact. is likely reject the view that these are the same problems. there are still -- by slightly reject the view -- i slightly reject the view that these are the same problems. there are still problems. we have to get the right solutions. >> the christmas day incident brought a lot of attention on a yemeni cleric, who is said to have encouraged and inspired abdulmutallab in his attempted attack. he had communications with major nidal hasan, the fort hood shooter.
how much of an operational role did a lot the play -- did alaki play? in the crhistmas -- christmas day incident. >> we assess that he had a direct an operational role. >> he directed him to blow up the airplane? >> will not go into greater detail. -- i will not go into greater detail. he had a direct and operational role. >> they say he is on the cia hit list. director leon panetta all but confirmed that when asked. he said, he is a terrorist and he will be treated as a terrorist. he is also a u.s. citizen. doesn't give anybody pause in the -- does it give anybody
pause in the upper ranks of the obama administration that we are targeting u.s. citizens for murder, especially when, as in the cleric's case, he has not been charged with a crime? >> you through in a lot of words. i have to put my legal at on. i think a lot of those are flatly wrong words. murder and killing are not interchangeable. i think that, without speaking directly in the case of the cleric, it certainly gives me pause. i know it gives leon pause. i'm quite confident in gives president obama, secretary gates -- anyone involved in life-and-death decisions -- it gives them pause in issuing orders and directives to go out and end an individual's life.
u.s. citizen or not. these are the greatest of decisions that the president and secretary of defense -- leon panetta -- have to make. this is -- the issue of the u.s. person certainly adds complexity to that decision-making process. but i do not believe that being a u.s. person is dispositive of what the u.s. government should do in terms of self defense. >> but what is the standard that you use for targeting a u.s. citizen? and what is the decision-making process for deciding somebody who, again, has not been indicted in the united states -- has not been charged with any crime -- there is no public evidence laid out against him. what is the standard or process for targeting that individual? >> let's just be clear.
the u.s. department of defense goes out and attempt to target and kill people -- a lot of people who have not been indicted. i do not think it is deposited. it may be meaningful whether someone has been indicted, but it does not decide the issue. she is not generally viewed as of the row right wing nut in the legal community, -- as a thorough right-wing nut in the legal community gave a talk about targeting individuals in the name of self-defense. that gave a cogent argument for an individual who does not have -- from an individual who does not have a long history of this. >> i would just say to continue this -- >> keep going.
[laughter] >> when the bush administration declared jose padilla an enemy combat and, stripped him of his legal rights, and threw him into the military brig, there was an enormous cry from the civil liberties community and others about that action. essentially, the executive branch of the government declared an american citizen an un-person. here, the obama administration is going one better than that. they are saying, we can kill this guy. we can take him out. it is arguably a more extreme action than what was done to padilla. there has been very little public debate about how that decision was made. does not the government at least owe a more full explanation of
how it reaches these decisions? >> i will answer the question. i got to -- >> go ahead. >> i absolutely agree with you. these are tough issues that require a full and open debate. that may not mean that there is a full and open debate about an individual and what goes on with that individual, because there are sources and methods involved. the policy decisions about the ways in which we should or should not use force demand a full and open discussion. again, it is part of my appearance here. i am trying to answer the questions as best i can. it is part of the ha of notrold went -- the reason that harold went out and gave his talk on this. these are big decisions. these are weighty. we have to -- i am not asking
people to except them as a given -- but i will tell you from my perspective as the director of the national counter-terrorism center, if someone like anwar al-awlaki is responsible for part of an operation to try to kill more than 300 people in the city of detroit -- over the city of detroit, i think it would be totally irresponsible for individuals like me, leon panetta, secretary gates, and the president, to not at least think about and potentially direct all elements of national power to try to defend the american people. that is what the american people expect. you have to of a process and level of trustworthiness in that process. it has to be done thoughtfully and within the bounds of the laws and constitutional principles. for us to not have that discussion and to not make that decision -- that would be reprehensible. >> there were riots last year among the we years in china --
uygurs in china. the chinese government said these rights were inspired and encouraged by a uygur dissident they called him a terrorist -- they called her a terrorist. if the chinese government were to apply the same logic and lodge a missile strike against her in northern virginia, what with the united states government's reaction be? how would we distinguish that at from what we're doing in targeting individuals? >> i think there are many ways to distinguish it. in part, it deals with the relations that we have with the host governments. without getting into some very sensitive operations, the u.s.
government continues to go out and target individuals who we think are actively plotting. they're not targeted because they have bad ideas. the are not targeted because they inspire others to -- they are not targeted because the inspire others to do things. they are targeted because they are attacking our homeland. >> the last question -- as a journalist, i have good days when i break a story and beat my competition. i have bad days when i get beaten on a story appeared as the director of the national counterterrorism and -- on a story. as a director of the national counterterrorism center, when do you drive home and say i feel really good about what i did today? give us a couple of examples. [laughter] >> a day and asked and is definitely at the top of the list -- in aspen is definitely
at the top of the list. [applause] there are a couple of different levels. first and foremost, and this may be the most pac, but it is the deepest answer -- pat, but it is the deepest answer, but a good day is when there is no attack. no innocent person gets killed by a terrorist plot. that is a good day. that is why we are there. you are going to have a lot of bad days, too. there are bad days that culminate in an attack, and there are days where you just do not know what is going on. you are trying to figure out the intelligence. you know something is going on, but you do not know what. where is the next attack coming from? anwar al-awlaki in yemen or al- qaeda senior leadership. the good days are those where you feel like you have suddenly made a leap forward, either
within the bureaucracy or something on the intelligence front. a couple of examples. after 12/25, which was a really tough day for me and obviously for the american people, and for our organization, because we felt like we had failed. we had failed. we really look to deep -- looked deep about what we could do to reduce the likelihood of it happening in the future. we created these teams that are now dedicated to diving into the most granular of intelligence. since those teams were created back in february -- this does not sound exciting or sexy -- but time after time, i have had a 27-year-old analyst find a piece of data and the cia database and a piece of the debt in the fbi database and a piece
of data in the dhs data base and say, look, this guy who we never thought of as being important at all -- we need to investigate him. he was talking to him and he traveled there, et cetera. we can get off to the fbi or the cia to pursue an investigation. -- hand that off to the fbi or the cia to pursue an investigation. that is a good day. that is a really good day. let me give you another example. when people come to the national counter-terrorism center and say, can you help us with this? people do not say that all the time. five years ago, people almost never said that. five years ago, when the nctc was greeted, people said, --
created, people said, who? why? we don't need that. what i have seen is, more and more, people are coming to us -- whether it is the fbi, cia, nsa, dhs -- and they are asking if we can help them work with x or that agency. that is a great day. it means that we have cooperation that we need. there are 14 failings in that case. two were us. the others -- all the other three-letter agencies that set in washington, d.c. -- sit in washington, d.c. they're all of these threats. without these agencies cooperating, it will not happen and we will not be successful.
we have all long way to go. i truly believe that people asking us and others for help is the most telling sign that folks are really committed to this mission and not to protecting their bureaucratic turf. now you get a sense of how depressing my days are. to me, that is a really good day. [laughter] >> thank you. that is interesting. we have time for are some questions from the experts in the audience -- for some questions from the experts in the audience. >> i want to pick up on what you said that you want to use all of the tools at your disposal to get on the case of anwar al- awlaki in yemen. we just finished an investigation. one thing we found is that when he lived here in the united states, he was pickkd up three times for soliciting prostitutes and for ordering around a school.
-- loitering around a school. i do not understand why we do not put out that information to undermine him with his supporters. >> you are doing a good enough job of it already. we do not need to do. [laughter] it is only partially a joke. the u.s. government clearly has a challenge in terms of messaging. we did not talk about it. i mentioned it up front. the single biggest change for me, from the obama administration, is a greater focus. it is still not perfect. we have a greater focus on counter-brutalization -- tendered as radicalization -- counter-radicalization. the challenge is the credibility of the u.s. government in many circles, which is not perfect.
that is just here in aspen. [laughter] globally, i think we are -- i think president obama is rebuilding part of that credibility, but we still have a long way to go. frankly, we want to be very careful about putting out information which, i think, might sway some people's views. because we should not -- i do not think we want the u.s. government to be in an open slander campaign against someone. it is relevant information you are getting out there. i am pleased that it is public, but as it is describing an individual like anwar al-awlaki, who is as far as someone can be from the genuine, peaceful, and meaningful and important tenet of the crown -- koran in islam. i want anwar al-awlaki stopped.
i want to stop because he is involved in operations that tried to kill americans. that is the message that, from the u.s. government perspective, is most important, even though others are relevant and meaningful. >> over here. you, sir. microphone, middle. >> first and foremost, heartfelt thanks foo all that you do. just a few years ago, the dni reflect -- referred to hezbollah as the "a-team" of terrorists. we have heard nothing about them here. could you share your assessment of where hezbollah is at? >> we still do spend time on
hezbollah. the fact that we have not discussed it -- we do spend a significant amount of time and manpower looking at it and studying it. as you well know, hezbollah has killed more americans than any other terrorist group and al qaeda -- than al qaeda. hezbollah has evolved as it has taken a greater role in less and it -- in lebanese politics. it has changed significantly. although i still agree with george that, in terms of its capabilities for surveillance and operations and weapons and those things, it is far more sophisticated than al-qaeda and, in that sense, far more able. it does not prioritize and has not chosen to attack u.s. and the homeland the same way the al-qaeda has. i'm confident that they could do
something much more complex than by -- as odd -- than faisal shahzad. because of their competing interests and priorities, that is not what they have chosen to do. it is not my number one priority, which is stopping attacks here. >> david? >> thank you. david sanger, "new york times." in the pre 9/11 days we saw that al qaeda had interest in obtaining masson -- obtaining weapons of mass destruction. there is a story -- it seems to have been a disorganized effort on the part of al-qaeda. they have been under greater pressure, but they have had a lot of time to think about this. what is your current assessment about their interests and their abilities and those of their
associates? >> that is a very good question, david. i would hate to give a talk on terrorism threats and not at least touch on weapons of mass destruction. i would talk a little bit about your characterization of their pre-9/11 efforts. their efforts to obtain an -- obtain contracts were not really pedestrian -- obtain anthrax were not really pedestrian. the pressure we put on al-qaeda senior leadership in pakistan is that they have been unable to have a formal, concerted effort to develop weapons of mass destruction. although, again, they remain a threat like zazi. their ability to develop a weapon of mass destruction has been greatly diminished because
of our activities in the region. that being said, with an outside and within al-qaeda -- within al-qaeda and al qaeda they continue to make small-scale weapons, including biological. the interest is still there. the level of sophistication has diminished because of our action in pakistan. is that a permitted follow up? on the formal, nuclear front, we have diminished their ability. it requires some infrastructure, although less than we might imagine. certainly on the radiological dispersal device -- something that disperses radiological material without producing yield -- it is a pretty simple tool.
i'm not just worried about our credit in pakistan or yemen developing that capability. -- about al qaeda in pakistan or yemen developing that capability. that is something we have with homegrown terrorists. >> i was wondering, what is the current situation as far as the syrian border and out paid operatives -- al qaeda operatives? as far as the upcoming trial of the sheik, how do you do that in relation to the operations of al qaeda? >> we have made incredible success on the syrian border. the fact that it is barely mentioned -- there was a time
where a kite that in a rock was -- al qaeda in iraq was huge. there is still potential from those borders for threats to emanate out, but we're in a far more positive place than we were in 2005 and 2006, which relates to the role that syria has played. they continue to play a really problematic role with relation to hezbollah. syria sees the threat of sunni extremism in the way in which it is internally interested in trying to defeat or minimize that threat. with respect to the trial of collegiate muhammed -- khalid sheik-mohammed, it will be an important opportunity -- however or wherever the trial is held -- i am not touching that one. it will be important to show
the nature of al qaeda's ideology. there'll be no positive outcome for muslims. it will be quite clear that it is an ideology which is pursuing death and destruction, and very little of anything positive. i hope the trial exposes that. we're absolutely strong enough as a democracy that, whatever vituperative dribble comes out of his mouth, the truth will actually win out. >> the decision has been delayed repeatedly. are we going to get one? when do you expect the trial to take place? >> it is there a question from the audience? [laughter] >> moderator's prerogative. >> i defer to the department of
justice. >> right here. >> i am from raytheon company. industry is well-represented. could you briefly share with us what has worked, what has not, what some of your needs are going forward, particularly in light of the post-christmas day attack? in the industry is a huge part of solving some of our toughest -- >> industry is a huge part of solving some of our toughest problems. i have more dated than i know what to do with. data than iot -- your data know what to do with. i do not know of this will depress you or not, as i told
the u.s. congress, that would not rise to the top 1000 things i see in the month. why? every routine day, the nctc receives between 8000 and 10,000 pieces of counter-terrorism information per day. within those reports are roughly 10,000 names per day. 10,000 names every day. every day, we put between 300 and 400 people on the watch list. every day. every day, we see upward of 40- plus specific threats. specific plots -- bonds will go off here today, tomorrow, whenever, not including iraq and afghanistan. i give that to you because it
gives some context to trying to find them in full -- the meaningful pieces of data that are buried within thousands and millions of pieces of other data. it is like finding a needle in a haystack. i disagree, it is like trying to find a needle in a pile of needles, covered by a haystack. it is not easy. we need industry. we have some great industry partners already. we're working with the national labs and other experts and think tanks to help us use that data in a meaningful way. help the data find the data. if i am an analyst at nctc, and i hear that there is a nigerian who is coming to the united states to bomb an airplane, i type in umar-farouk, i get intelligence. it is easy.
their disparate pieces of information in different databases, and we have to find it so that the human eye and the human brain can be alerted about where to look. what i really need from industry is not just help in solving that data correlation problem, but help so that i can do it in a way that the american people feel like their fundamental privacy and civil liberties are still being protected. that is a challenge. i think the american people want me to do this, but i think they want me to do what in a way that they do not feel like every bit of their personal data -- every time they use their credit card -- they're getting checked on by someone at nctc or cia or elsewhere. i need the industry to work with organizations that focused on protecting civil liberties to come up with solutions to get
both of those missions accomplished simultaneously. >> david? >> i am from the "washington post." i remember officials saying that the u.s. was fortunate, compared to say britain or the european countries, in that our homegrown in domestic muslim populations were generally well-assimilated, comparable, and did not pose the kind of threat we have seen in britain and europe. that seems to be changing when you look at the nidal hasan case or a series of others. can you speak to that question? do we have a homegrown problem of growing dimensions? what are you doing about that in
terms of messaging and policy? >> great question. thank you. it is changing, but i would stay by those the ins -- stick by those statements from a couple of years ago, that we do not have the same kinds of problems as our european allies, in particular, the united kingdom. it has gotten worse. our muslim population has remained very different from the muslim population of the united kingdom. they remain far better integrated, far more successful socioeconomically, far less isolated, far more involved in u.s. politics, are less concerned with overseas politics. we have some warning signs in some communities. the community challenge -- and i want to stress that the vast majority of small-americans are absolutely the most wonderful, -- somali -- americans are absolutely the most wonderful, hard-working americans you could imagine.
i cannot stress that enough. there is a volley -- there is a very small subsection of the population which tends to be isolated, not as social anomaly -- socioeconomically advantaged. many of those somalian-americans have returned to fight in somalia. that is problematic. let me rephrase that -- i am sorry i said it that way. small segments of that community are worrisome to the community is part of the solution. -- are worrisome. the community is part of the solution. what is different from what we've seen in the u.k. is some homegrown radicalization which is not easily categorized or classified by background or even age.
from jihad jane tuna doll hasan -- to nidal hasan. they tend to be isolated. tend to not grow out of mosques. they often fly solo. what has enabled that, to a great extent, is the evolution of the internet. the interactive nature of the internet has provided a social structure and social environment for these individuals where they can become radicalized, even though they do not have like- minded individuals around them in their community. they can find that community, as nidal hasan and others have, online. what are we doing about it? this does require a totally different set of rules than what most "counter-terrorist and" folks think about.
-- "counter-terrorism" folks think about. there has been some very good of reach from organizations like the civil rights and civil liberties office at dhs. i think what we need -- and president obama and i talked about this -- is a firm commitment to a far broader set of programs engaging with these communities. we're not engaging with them because they are terrorists. we're engaging with them to make them feel like they are a true part of american society. their communities can then make sure they are not victimized by the likes of anwar al-awlaki and they do not end up in yemen or pakistan or somalia. i guarantee you, that family that has led fighting in mogadishu in the 1990's, the
last thing that they were hoping for in the american dream was their 18-year-old son returned to die as a suicide bomber in somalia. we have to have a level of engagement far beyond the traditional counter-terrorism community. we have to do something that is online as well to engage in those communities and help them solve what is a threat to their american dream. >> have time for one more question -- we have time for one more question. this woman right here. >> i am a u.s. citizen and a car-carrying member of the aclu. i am concerned about the potential for abuse in targeting u.s. citizens. a policeman in the court order to enter a house.
-- needs a court order to enter a house. as the u.s. government need the involvement of the courts to go -- does the u.s. government need go after someone they decide is- a threat? >> thank you for your question. a police officer does not need a court order to defend himself if a person that he pulls over pulls out a gun. he has a right of self-defense. in the same regard, the u.s. government, i believe, as that right internationally. -- has that right internationally. there are a series of oversight mechanisms which, i hope give you some greater comfort that there is not abused in the system. it is totally appropriate for you to be dubious and ask these questions. for much of what we do, almost all of it, in terms of
electronic surveillance involving u.s. citizens and the like, the foreign intelligence surveillance court created in the 1970's regulates that. for the fbi, cia, an essay to go and look at your e-mail or phone calls -- nsa to go and look at your e-mail or phone calls, they go before a judge to explain why they think the person is associated with a terrorist organization and there is a judge wearing a robe doing just that. similarly, i think and hope you look to your members of congress to provide meaningful oversight of what i do. you're nnt going to hear about every detail. if you did, i could never get my job done. part of what i do in counter- terrorism intelligence has is a
secret. the bad guys listen to what we say. both the senate intelligence committee and house intelligence committee, which conduct extensive hearings, investigations -- they have the responsibility, as your representatives, to make sure i am doing things right. you will not a transcript of everything they say and do, but i hope you have members of congress that you trust enough -- it is fine for you to trust them more than you trust me -- so that you feel like someone is watching me and making sure i am not abusing my authority or violating your rights in an inappropriate way. all that being said, i want to protect all of your rights, including your right to life. there were some things like, checking you an airport, looking at e-mails -- those things are necessary for me to do that. i would ask for you to approach this with an open mind.
putting in place oversight that is necessary and allowing me some flexibility to do what we think we need to do to protect you on a train or an airplane or just walking down the streets of new york city. >> thank you very much for a great discussion. [applause] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2010] >> from today's "washington journal," here is part of the discussion on long-term prospects for restoring the gulf coast. host: at the table, paul harrison, here to talk to us about the gulf coast restoration. for now, assessment of oil spill damage is a joint effort. the government and bp working together but it's to the concern of some.
first off, what's your own assessment of what's happening down there? guest: well, first the important thing to remember is that this is the largest single event environmental disaster we've had in our lifetime and it is still very much going on. the oil is still coming out. some of it is being collected, a lot is not being collected. it is still hitting the fragile louisiana marshes, gulf coast beaches. and we still have at least a month, probably two months even if the relief wells are effective, to have oil out in the area hitting the marshes, hitting the beaches. so as all of this is happening, as the ongoing effort to shut this off is happening, we are having to figure out what the impacts are on the environment. so having -- and it's important to remember that the -- this is
not something we've planned for, this is not something we've experienced bbfore. so a lot of the science work that needs to be done, we weren't prepared for that, it hasn't happened. one big concern is that this conversation is happening between the government and bp and making sure that this is happening in public. that the best scientistses in the world are brought in here to see this, to be engaged, to provide solutions and answers. and i think that is only really beginning to happen. host: so back to that subhead of that piece, government and bp working together. it's got a lot of people concerned. why is that? and what should be done about it, in your view? guest: well, people are obviously concerned because both the government and bp have an interest and everybody's thinking that e everything is ok. that they've got it under control. the reality is, because we weren't prepared for this, because this has happened in a
way that we've never expect, it's not under control. at least in terms of our understanding of what the long-term impacts of this are on the fish, on the birds, on the eco system. host: let's get the phone numbers up for paul harrison, with the environmental defense fund. we're talking here about gulf coast restoration. our guest has been educated at the college of william and mary, also has a law degree from fordham university in the bronx new york, was a trial lawyer at the u.s. justice department from 2000-2006. currently senior director for mississippi river and east coast center for rivers and deltas, part of the environmental defense fund, senior direct there are. and as we look at restoration, mr. harrison, what's the prescription from your area? if you don't quite know how bad it is yet, how are you going to get your head around how to restore things? what's your process going to
be? guest: well, one of the things that people need to remember about the louisiana wetlands in particular and the gulf of mexico is that these are places where environmental damage has been happening for the past 80, 100 years. you can take the louisiana wetlands, for example, because we made some decisions on how we manage the mississippi river, the wetlands are actually the delta of the mississippi river. this is where the river comes down, it's draining 41% of the united states, it's eroding all that land and sediment. and it builds this land mass, where new orleans sits. it's where the fishing communities are. and it's an ongoing battle between the gulf of mexico and the mississippi river to build land. we pretty much turned off the mississippi river's ability to build land so that we could have flood control, so that we could have big navigation channel. and then, starting in the 1930s we started doing oil and gas
development out in the wetlands. louisiana was the first place that anywhere in the world where people went out into the water to start drilling for oil. and that led to the development of pipeline canls and dredging. it's basically a huge industrial infrastructure on top of a very fragile eco system and that has caused huge damage as well. so we know a lot about how to restore this system. people have for the past 30 years known that the system is going into collapse actually since the early 1900s, we've lost about 2300 square miles of the coastal wetlands, like the entire state of delaware disappearing or the entire urban area of greater chicago turning into open water. and so while we are looking at the questions of what the direct impact is from the bp disaster, we also know how to restore the system. it's to reconnect the river, the water, and the sediment to the wetlands and allow them to build back.
and it's much the same for the gulf of mexico, for the deep waters. this is going to have a significant impact. we don't know exactly what that impact is going to be but we do know a lot about how to manage fisheries, for example, to make sure that we're not taking too many fish so that they can't recover. baton now, discussion about our recent discovery -- >> now, discussion about our recent discovery on the declaration of independence. of independence on this july 4th. here is one of the headlines. tod today's philadelph"philadelphi." they title it "appearing acts." jefferson erased a word preservation scientists at the
library of congress discovered that jefferson, even in the act of declaring independence from england had trouble breaking free from rule. in an early draft he wrote the word "subjects" when referring to the american people. he then replaced it with citizens, a term he used frequently in the final draft. the library released the news of the word for theirst time this past friday. on the phone we have the librarian of congress james billington to join us to tell us more about it. dr. billington, good morning. happy fourth. how did this come about? >> it came through a new technology where we know there was a little blur behind the word citizen. we never knew what was underneath. and it was what jefferson originally wrote. but you have to realize we are talking about exceptionalism, bringing the 13 colonies widely
dispersed together, they were never met as a group until 1754 in albany and they later declared their independence. that is astonishing, really. up until that time they generally referred to themselves as subjects of the king. they were unhappy with much that the king was doing and it was a remote power and top-down philosophy. they got together, and after they had actually, the congress, called us an independent nation on july 2, between the 2nd and #ed they -- 4th they had the debate of how to explain it to the world and write a document like a declaration that would explain it. then the process by which it came into being, which was a deba debate, there are collections in jefferson's rough draft that you can see on your website and in
creang the united states it was an amaze iing production they discussed the history of europe, the history of classic alan particularity tkantiquity d he wrote it after we were independent on the 2nd. and you can look at this imaging and read what was underneath, what was smudged out before. and instead ofubjects they were all independent colonies subject of the king. they were not citizens of something new. the term had been used before but it was the accepted thing and the reason in a sense for declaring independents. there were not any more top down. everybody was a citizen and they had freedoms and responsibilities. and later they had rights. l of those -- most of those founding documents are in the libry of congress and preserved in the original. here you see jefferson's rough draft and you see the
collections that were -- you see the corrections. adams and franklin wrote corrections and jefferson penciled them in a so we are discovering by breaking down light and taking photographs you can see what is underneath the pencilling and ink covers or in this case a word that was smudged out and carefully wrote "citizens" over it. you can see it there. it is relatively dark. you can see the sort of smudging around it. there is speculation of what was underneath but we thought it was "patriots" or some other word but it was a servile word of being a subject and being replaced by being a citizen. you take successive digital photographs and you break up the light into the component parts and you can see what is undeeath. you see he tried to follow to some extent right over the
original words so that even ough they had been smudged out, they wouldn't be discovered, it would be more difficult to see the word undeeath. you can do this for all kinds of things. the capitol was called the same kind of image, the reflective image. that diagonal thing is breaking up the light into the component parts using you want extra vial late -- ultravial late you can detect the changes from congress's house to capitol, o-l, on the infrared band. so you take digital photographs of the broken up light, what is called optical dispersing of the aspects of light. that means you don't have to sample it or tamper with it or use radioactive materials. you have the clean untouched original version.
that is why preserving these original versions and using this new technology, which combines digital photography with breaking up of light into component parts, is tell us more and more about what the member tomorrow on "washington journal," -- >> pm de mar on "washington journal," -- tomorrow on "washington journal," stephen rose, sam gilston, and tom fahey. tom fahey details of the condition of the new hampshire state budget. washington journal "" -- washington journal "" -- "washington